In another indication that the company is biased against conservatives and libertarians, Facebook opposes a shareholder proposal that promotes ideological and political diversity in its workforce. Sponsored by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), the resolution will be considered at the Facebook annual meeting on Thursday, May 30 in Menlo Park, California.
Facebook’s opposing statement doesn’t directly address the issue raised by the resolution and instead describes programs that make the workforce even more Left-wing and are based on group identity. According to NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty, who will present the resolution, “Once again, Zuckerberg is giving the back of his hand to legitimate concerns about the bias problem at Facebook.”
NLPC’s resolution and supporting statement is below. Facebook’s statement of opposition appears on page 69 of the proxy, which can be viewed here.
In 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “We care deeply about diversity. That’s easy to say when it means standing up for ideas you agree with. It’s a lot harder when it means standing up for the rights of people with different viewpoints to say what they care about. That’s even more important.”
Zuckerberg also claimed that Facebook seeks to be “a platform for all ideas,” yet little or no information has been reported to shareholders on how the Company has sought to increase ideological, political, religious and/or geographical diversity in its recruitment, hiring and promotion.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conceded in 2018 to a Senate Committee that “Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place.”
Facebook board member Marc Andreessen stated in 2017, “Silicon Valley is extremely left-wing, extremely liberal.”
In 2018, then-Facebook engineer Brian Amerige wrote: “We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views. We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”
Facebook has faced repeated and well-publicized accusations of both conscious and unconscious bias against conservatives, libertarians and Republicans, subjecting the Company to the business risk of alienating of millions of its users.
Shareholders request that Facebook prepare a diversity report, at reasonable cost and omitting confidential information, available to investors, including a description of:
- Any programs currently in place to provide protection and/or support to Facebook employees who do not share all or part of Silicon Valley’s dominant political ideology, including those grouped under Facebookers for Political Diversity.
- Any Company analysis of how its public policy positions related to controversial issues like immigration and homosexuality contribute to a hostile work environment for employees who do not share those positions, and how they may dissuade qualified prospects from seeking jobs with Facebook.
- Any Company outreach to free-market, conservative and libertarian think tanks, foundations, political organizations and job banks to identify qualified candidates for hiring.
Pledges to make Facebook “a platform for all ideas” cannot be fulfilled as long as the content gatekeepers are of mostly one political persuasion. As Andreessen further asserted, “I think it is really hard for a lot people in Silicon Valley to even articulate the other side…” It is not a process problem, but a culture problem.
The business case for workforce diversity is particularly compelling. Facebook is the world’s largest seller of display advertising. This market share is not automatic. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 35% of Americans self-identify as “conservative,” and 35% “moderate.” If users conclude that Facebook is biased, censors their ideas, and has contempt for their beliefs, they will stop using Facebook.
Diversity and inclusion are important values. Facebook can create a more tolerant and respectful culture by embracing diversity in its workforce.